Also known as “The Orchard Pig”
Place of origin: Vale Orchard, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, UK
No other pedigree spotted breed was recorded before 1913, so today’s GOS is recognised as the oldest such breed in the world. From the British Pig Association: “Although if old paintings are to be trusted, there have been spotted pigs around for two or three centuries, the Gloucestershire Old Spots has only had pedigree status since the early 20th century.”
In the UK, the Old Spots is listed as “At Risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as there are fewer than 1000 registered breeding females (https://en.wikipedia.org/). The Gloucestershire Old Spots was the first breed of any species in the world to be accorded Traditional Specialty Guaranteed status by the EU Commission
Interesting facts about the Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig
Besides its correct title and variations such as Gloucester Spot or just Old Spot, the breed is also known as the “Orchard Pig“ and “The Cottager’s Pig”.
Despite these humble origins, both The Prince of Wales and The Princess Royal keep GOS pigs on their respective Gloucestershire estates.
Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig Characteristics
The body of the GOS pig as a long level back with well sprung ribs and a broad loin. It displays deep sides, with a thick, full belly and flank, the coat of the body is white with clearly defined black (not blue) spots., which is silky and straight. The body is supported by legs which are straight and strong.
The GOS’ s head is supported by Its neck which is of medium length, its facial features displays a slightly dished nose which is short in length. Other features of the Gloucestershire Old Spot include lop ears which will almost cover the face of a mature pig and hang towards the nose.
Other Special Characteristics:
•Hardy, and active
•Sows known for having good maternal instincts
•Known for having a very gentle nature, very good temperament
•Average litter, 8 piglets
•Climate Tolerance, native climates
•Produces high quality meat production
•The Gloucestershire Old Spots was the first breed of any species in the world to be accorded Traditional Specialty Guaranteed status by the EU Commission
Hardly coming from a farming background, I don’t mind admitting sometimes my comfort zone has been a tad stretched over the last couple of years.
In February 2018 we bought land, suddenly excited about how much. First fail was we had no plans or ideas of exactly what to do with it. With the grass now around chest height like all best made plans we sat in the pub with a good farmer friend who cut it for us and within a week we were at Baltinglass Mart bidding for sheep. Our journey had begun.
We probably had the sheep about a year before ideas of expansion were at hand. We had an area that wasn’t great land for the sheep they rarely grazed on it, but it was perfect for something else. We hovered between turkeys and ducks; geese were even thrown into the equation. Then the idea of a pig cropped up. I’m sure blood drained from Janine’s (my partner) face for all I heard for weeks was “yes we can have a pig, but this is your idea!” the expression “your idea” was said several times and emphasised so it was clear that had events gone awry with our pig journey we knew where blame was to be appointed.
Anyway, within weeks we were actively looking for a pig. I booked on to a pig keeping course and immediately realised as social animals one would never be enough. With this one pig became two Gloucester Old Spot. Within weeks the two became 5. Obviously when you have five, they multiply all by themselves! Similarly, to our sheep journey our pig journey had begun in earnest.
So why the Gloucester Old Spot? Several reasons, I wanted something that was relatively rare and whatever breed I opted had to be hardy due to our location. Although probably that the Old Spot is quintessentially English and spotty probably nailed it for me. I love spotty pigs.